Court rules in favour of Nelson Mandela Bay Metro mayor

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The Gqeberha High Court has ruled in favour of Nelson Mandela Bay Mayor Gary van Niekerk interdicting the Independent Electoral Commission from replacing him and fellow National Alliance councillor, Stag Mitchell, as councillors in the metro.

The court granted Van Niekerk and Mitchel an interim order to continue with their duties as councillors. The two filed an urgent application to interdict the IEC from amending its record, after City Manager Dr Noxolo Nqwazi declared vacancies in their places in council.

They were expelled in absentia during a disciplinary hearing by a faction of the National Alliance earlier this month. The interim order will be valid pending the outcome of part B of the application, which aims to establish the legitimacy of the two NA structures and the congress that elected the leaders of the NA faction that expelled Van Niekerk.

The vacancy declaration by the city Nqwazi  regarding Van Niekerk and Mitchell’s positions, created an atmosphere of uncertainty in council.

At the time when Nqwazi wrote to the IEC, her fate was going to be decided in a planned council meeting as she is an accused in R24-million fraud trial in the city.

But the meeting was postponed at the last minute due to the vacancy declaration. The absence of the two National Alliance councillors in council was going to put the current coalition government at a numerical disadvantage in council, creating a stalemate.

The National Alliance is in coalition government with the ANC, EFF, PAC, AIC and the PA. The legal team of Van Niekerk argued in court that the actions of Nqwazi were unlawful as the two councillors were not notified.

The respondent’s legal team said all processes were followed and there was no need to notify the two councillors as she believed the structure that informed her was a legitimate structure of the party. Van Niekerk says this is a victory for Nelson Mandela Bay residents.

“The decision by Judge Denzel Potgieter to grant an interdict against filling in of vacancies illegally declared by phantom representative of National Alliance including the fraudulent accused City Manager is a victory for good governance. The turmoil created by the deceitful backward action was deliberately inflicted on the executive of the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality, on its administration and indirectly its residents. To derail disciplinary action against Dr Noxolo Nqwazi.”

Van Niekerk and Mitchell were expelled from the party in absentia when a disciplinary hearing held by a faction of the NA found them guilty of bringing the party into disrepute. The two turned to the court to halt the process but he court ruled against them.  The NA faction that expelled them says although the party did not oppose the urgent application, it remains the legitimate structure.

National Chairperson of the Parallel Structure, Kerwin Stuurman, “The only losers today are the structures of the National Alliance. It was once again denied a right to be represented by those they elected at a duly convened 2nd elective congress of the National Alliance.”

A council meeting is expected to take place this Friday to decide the fate of Nqwazi. Attempts to get a comment from the City Manager was unsuccessful.